GCC Backs UN Arms Embargo on Iran | 10 Aug 2020

Why in News

Recently, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) backing an extension of its arms embargo on Iran, just two months before it is set to expire.

Gulf Cooperation Council

  • It is a political and economic alliance of countries in the Arabian Peninsula.
  • It was established in 1981 to foster socioeconomic, security, and cultural cooperation.
  • Members: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Key Points

  • The GCC has alleged that Iran had not ceased or desisted from armed interventions in neighbouring countries, directly and through organisations and movements armed and trained by Iran.
  • Allegation on Iran:
    • The UN, the USA and other armament experts have accused Iran of providing arms to Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
    • Iran allegedly arms Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon and Syria and also provides weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq and terrorist groups in Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
    • The letter also mentioned Iran’s shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane and its navy accidentally killing 19 sailors in a missile strike during an exercise.
    • Iran also is suspected of launching an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry in September 2019.
  • Arms Embargo:
    • In 2010, the UN banned Iran from purchasing foreign-made weapons like fighter jets, tanks and warships amid tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.
      • The embargo blocked Iran from replacing its ageing equipment, much of which had been purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
      • An earlier embargo had targeted Iranian arms exports.
    • In 2015, under Iran’s nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the UN agreed to end the arms embargo in October 2020.
  • Internal Conflict in GCC: Even though the GCC has offered a unified statement, it remains affected by internal conflict among the member nations. For example:
    • Qatar crisis, which saw Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and launch a boycott of the nation beginning in 2017.
      • Qatar has had good relations with Iran and has used its airspace while sharing a vast offshore oil and gas field with Tehran (Iran’s capital).
      • Qatar is home to the massive Al-Udeid Air Base and the forward headquarters of the USA military’s Central Command.
    • Oman also has had close ties to Iran and has served as an interlocutor between Tehran and the West.
    • On the other hand, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are suspicious of Iran and accuse it of stirring up dissent among Shiite populations in the region.
  • Iran’s Stand:
    • Iran has denied the various accusations of its involvement in arms supply.
    • Iran has condemned the GCC letter and called it an irresponsible statement that serves the USA’s interests.
    • It has also criticized the GCC countries for being “among the largest arms buyers in the region and the world,” even amidst the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Source: IE